Center for Working Families

Progressive taxation is what will help restore economy

Check out Dave Palmer’s letter to the editor of the Buffalo News:

Progressive taxation is what will help restore the economy

Updated: November 10, 2011, 6:36 AM

Rod Watson is right: Our country’s income gap is a powerful argument for progressive change (“Cuomo needs to get smart on surcharge,” Oct. 27 commentary).

Nowhere is that clearer than New York. Our top 1 percent now claims a whopping 35 percent of New York’s total income—the largest disparity of all U. S. states.

Even though New York’s richest are earning more, they’re giving back less. Our top 1 percent pays about seven cents of every dollar in state and local taxes. Middle-class families pay about 12 cents.

That wasn’t always the case. Thirty years ago, New York’s top 1 percent claimed only 10 percent of state income. They also paid higher state income taxes: The top rate was 15 percent, compared to today’s top rate of 8.97 percent.

Reinstituting progressive taxation— that is, taxing New Yorkers according to their ability to pay—could help revive the economy. Done right, this system would grant relief to the vast majority of New Yorkers and help put our economy back on track.

Let’s remember, our state’s tax revenue has done a lot. It’s kept our teachers in the classroom, our water clean and our roads paved. It’s allowed us to fare well compared to other states. A relatively high proportion of our residents have health insurance, for example, and our state’s students are among the country’s top performers in physics and calculus.

New York still has a long way to go before we get the sort of schools, health care and jobs that we want. Progressive taxation can help us get there.

Dave Palmer
Executive Director Center for Working Families

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The Center for Working Families creates and implements innovative policy ideas to improve the lives of working and low income New Yorkers.

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